Monday, March 31, 2014

Spring is here!

Happy spring, everyone! Although tour has been over for a week now, we wanted to give the blog some closure picture-wise. After we arrived back in Naperville, everyone gathered in front of our beautiful performance space, Wentz Concert Hall, for a photo op.

Thank you again for coming along on this blog journey with us. Last time I checked, we were up to 1,350 views! We are looking forward to a warm and sunny spring term here at North Central, and we hope you all have a wonderful spring as well!

"There is no such beauty as where you belong. Rise up, follow me, I will lead you home."

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The road home

Hello everyone!

We are officially done with the Concert Choir "Road Home" tour after arriving in Naperville around 3:45 today. It was a fantastic trip full of fun experiences and many, many great memories were made.

After an early morning wake-up today, we had the opportunity to sing during two church services at Brown Deer United Methodist Church in Brown Deer, Wisconsin. Reverend Paul Armstrong welcomed us with open arms, as did the congregation at each service. We sang all of our sacred repertoire, including River in Judea, which their own church choir has in their arsenal of pieces, and The Road Home. It was a pleasure to be in such great company and to hear a wonderful message given by Rev. Armstrong.

In 2012, North Central College and Brown Deer lost a wonderful person. Shaun Wild, school teacher and 2011 NCC alum, was loved and cherished by many, including friends, family, and community admirers of all kinds. It was an honor to meet his family and hear of their journey since his passing and how they will always "live on the wild side". After we all filled up Mrs. Wild's "hug tank" as best we could, we had the chance to go to Brown Deer High School where Shaun was the star football player before coming to the Cardinal football family. Under the scoreboard that bore the words "Honoring the Memory of Shaun Wild #8", the choir members sang the North Central College Alma Mater and gave a cheer in Shaun's memory. It was a touching moment for everyone.

Mrs. Jami "Mama" Wild tells us of her experiences and to "accentuate the positive"
Al, who plays for North Central football and wears Shaun's old number, hugs Mama Wild
Rev. Armstrong thanking the choir for their music
Choir in front of the Brown Deer High School football scoreboard in memory of Shaun Wild

 Choir members giving a cheer in Shaun's memory

Singing the Alma Mater under the Brown Deer scoreboard

Over the last five days, we have laughed, cried, explored, slept on the bus, and made up numerous catch phrases, all while getting to know each other on more personal levels. We traveled from Galena all the way to Milwaukee and back to Illinois and performed at high schools, colleges, churches, and even a little bit on the stairs at the Hilton. It was a joy to sing with so many talented individuals under the direction of Dr. Wis, Mac, Barb, and Dr. Hemenway. I think I can speak for all of the seniors when I say that this tour was a wonderful way to round out our four years at North Central College in a musical way. For those of you who still have a year or two (or three...etc.), cherish these moments you have with Concert Choir. Those are the types of moments you may never experience again; the memories we made with each other can never be replaced. For everyone who has been tuning in and reading the blog this week, thank you for coming along with us on this journey. We hope you could see the beauty in the things we were able to experience this week; we could not have asked for a better "road home"!

"Tell me, where is the road
I can call my own,
That I left, that I lost
So long ago?
All these years I have wandered,
Oh when will I know
There's a way, there's a road
That will lead me home?

After wind, after rain,
When the dark is done,
As I wake from a dream
In the gold of day,
Through the air there's a calling
From far away,
There's a voice I can hear
That will lead me home.

Rise up, follow me,
Come away, is the call,
With the love in your heart
As the only song;
There is no such beauty
As where you belong;
Rise up, follow me,
I will lead you home."

Saturday, March 22, 2014

One day more...

Hello folks! Today was our last full day of tour, and I think it's safe to say that we made the best of it. We spent our morning at the zoo, as you saw in the earlier blog post (if you haven't looked yet, go check it out!), had a great time exploring the historic Third Ward district this afternoon, and performed our last evening concert at Whitefish Bay United Methodist Church to a very responsive and supportive audience here in Milwaukee. We are very thankful for all of the wonderful people who have helped us on our "road home". Thank you to all who fed, housed, drove, and served us in every way imaginable the last four days--we are forever grateful!

Here are some pictures taken today during our adventures and final "formal" concert of tour. Enjoy!

Choir members getting breakfast this morning in Madison
Julien just being classy
Katie eating breakfast rather excitedly
Marlena and Kiersten hanging out with the baby bonobo
Reminiscent of "hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil"
Al, Jess, and Barb having fun at the zoo
Olivia and Hunter making friends :)
Mikey showing off the camels
Dr. Wis, Dr. Hemenway, and Barb trying to stay warm at the zoo
Racing time!
A group outside the Milwaukee Public Market
The Choir and faculty at the Hilton in Milwaukee
Our last evening concert at Whitefish Bay UMC
Thank you to all who have been following us on this journey across the Midwest. We have made many great memories, music, and possibly even life-long friends. Just one more performance tomorrow morning at Brown Deer United Methodist Church, then we'll be heading back to good ole Naperville. Tune in tomorrow for a final blog post!

"There is no such beauty as where you belong. Rise up, follow me, I will lead you home."

Milwaukee adventures

Happy Saturday, everyone! We've had a great day so far and we're looking forward to our evening concert tonight at Whitefish Bay United Methodist Church in Milwaukee. But before we get there, we should show you our many adventures we had in Milwaukee today! Around 10 AM this morning we arrived at the Milwaukee Zoo to explore for two hours. Although it was a bit chilly, everyone had a fun time watching the animals! Afterward, Bob (our awesome bus driver) dropped us off in the Third Ward district in downtown Milwaukee where we had a couple hours to eat lunch and adventure as much as we wanted. Many choir members and faculty started with a meal at the Milwaukee Public Market, a cool place with food, drink, and candy stands. A small group of us walked the mile to the Milwaukee Art Museum, pictured below. We had a great time looking at the exhibits and interpreting them with each other. :) Then everyone walked to our hotel, which is a historic site in and of itself. If you have never been to the Hilton in downtown Milwaukee, you should go--it's absolutely gorgeous! Soon we will depart for Whitefish Bay UMC for dinner and to give our evening concert. Stay tuned for more updates about our last night of tour, but for now, check out the pictures of our adventures today!

One of the beautiful peacocks roaming about the zoo
Staring contest--I believe Brett won
Another good staring contest opponent--Mr. Meerkat!
Thoughtful tiger is thoughtful

Amanda on her way to the Milwaukee Public Market
Inside the Milwaukee Public Market
Ronnie standing under the Aladdin restaurant sign
Eating our yummy finds!
Milwaukee Public Market
One of the many beautiful buildings in the Third Ward district
Milwaukee Art Museum

Sean L and Dominic inside the Art Museum
Cool sculpture made of glass
Ceiling of the Art Museum
Dominic gazing thoughtfully out the window of the Art Museum

One of the exhibits at the museum
Chelsea checking out a piece
Sculpture leading up to the museum

Pictures from our tour photographer

Good morning all! We are on our way to Milwaukee to visit the zoo and Historic Third Ward district before our concert at Whitefish Bay United Methodist Church. Here are some pictures from tour so far taken by our awesomely talented photographer, Fisher Parsons:

David, Mark, Derek and Fisher with their host mom from Galena

St. Michael's Catholic Church in Galena
Walking to Jefferson High School
Jefferson High School Concert Choir with director Nick Oswald
King's Chapel at Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, Iowa
Hanging out before choir in King's Chapel
Silly photo in front of King's Chapel
Colleen politely agrees to hold everyone's folders during a bathroom break
Mark, Sean, and Taylor cooking out at Mark's house in Savanna
Havencrest Castle in Savanna
Dr. Wis directs the Choir at Madison West High School in Wisconsin
Madison West Concert Choir sings for us
Mac, Anthony Cao, Dr. Wis and Mr. Cao's student teacher after the choir exchange

Thank you, Fisher, for taking such great pictures during tour! Stay tuned for updates on our adventures at the Milwaukee Zoo and the Historic Third Ward district!

"There is no such beauty as where you belong. Rise up, follow me, I will lead you home."

Friday, March 21, 2014

Two-for-one deal!

My apologies for the lack of blog posts--we've encountered wi-fi droughts recently (yes, we are spoiled in our technologically-dependent society), so there hasn't been a way to update everyone. But we're back now, and you get a two-in-one deal--Thursday and Friday!

Yesterday, we had a wonderful, jam-packed day including two high school stops and a concert at night. We pick up our story at Panera, where we picked up bagels and coffee if needed and made it out in less than 15 minutes.

 Sabrina and Colleen at Panera

 Emilia, Nik, and Ashlyn

Jefferson High School, where we shared some pieces with their Concert Choir and (because of crazy high school scheduling) half of the freshman girls choir. They were very welcoming and performed beautifully for us.

Singing Kalkadunga Yurdu at Jefferson High School
We then made our way to Cornell College in Mt. Vernon and did a quick exchange with their Concert Choir at King's Chapel, a marvelously-built performance space. Everyone enjoyed the stained glass windows and gorgeous architecture in King's Chapel. Here are a few pictures:

 Walking up to King's Chapel at Cornell College

 Choir outside of the chapel

 Singing for Cornell's Concert Choir

 Singing Praise to the Lord with some of Cornell's Concert Choir

 Singing Afternoon on a Hill in the balcony of King's Chapel

We then went to lunch at nearby restaurants and headed toward dinner and our evening concert in Savanna, Illinois. Thank you to all of the gracious helpers at Savanna First United Methodist Church who provided dinner, desserts, and breakfast. They were too great! We also had many terrific hosts who took us in for the night or donated hotel/motel rooms for us to stay in. Thank you to everyone who helped out at Savanna FUMC!

 Choir singing at Savanna First United Methodist Church

Today we woke up, traveled back to FUMC and ate a great breakfast of fruit, doughnuts, and yogurt. Yum!

 Nik, Kelly, Emily, and Hunter with their host parents at breakfast

After a delightful breakfast and start to our day, we drove down the road to pay a visit to Havencrest Castle, also in Savanna, where we had the opportunity to explore. Here are a few of the many pictures taken at Havencrest:

 The hike up to the castle

 We made it!

 Laura and I in front of Havencrest

 Marlena welcoming us into her humble abode

 Alex knocking at the door

 Sean and Dominic fighting the statue, Frank

Hanging with Frank

 The choir in front of Havencrest

 Hiding inside one of the castle's many cool spots

After our quick stop at Havencrest, we drove to Madison, where we stopped at State Street for lunch and a quick shopping trip. Choir members and faculty ate everything from sandwich shops to pasta to Ian's Pizza. Then we were off to Madison West High School where Anthony Cao and his student teacher played host to the choir. We traded songs, and they sounded fabulous! After our choir exchange we stopped at the mall to grab a bite to eat for the concert then headed to the hotel to get settled in and take a "breather". Pretty soon we were back on the bus and on our way to Sun Prairie United Methodist Church to give our evening concert. We had a welcoming and involved audience for our performance and found that we connected extremely well with each other and all our pieces.

 Dr. Wis and some of the guys before our concert at Sun Prairie

 Choir singing Kansas Boys directed by Mac Willaert

Dr. Wis and the Concert Choir at Sun Prairie UMC

We were excited to get back to the hotel for some relaxation time, but first made a stop at the convenience our attire.

 Taylor and Colleen browsing the candy aisle at the store

Here are a few snapshots of our down time at our hotel in Madison:

 Pool time!

 Ashlyn playing a solitary game of solitaire

 Nik and Mac in an intense chess match...who will win?

Dan the Man with some choir members!

Dan helped us in so many ways, including ensuring our smooth transition from the bus into our rooms, making sure we had everything we needed, and giving us tips on things around the hotel. He's awesome--thanks, Dan!

Thanks to all who have been following the blog this far. Again, sorry for the delay yesterday, but you just got to experience double the trouble in one read. :) Stay tuned for our adventures in Milwaukee tomorrow!

"There is no such beauty as where you belong. Rise up, follow me, I will lead you home."